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Craig Bellamy with BBC Wales' Rob Phillips
"I've gone in with no intent to hurt anyone - it's unbelievable, to be honest"
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Ryan Giggs
"The goal before half time killed us"
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Mark Hughes with Rob Phillips
"As a team we can't afford to have anyone under-performing"
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BBC Wales' John Hardy
Match report
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Saturday, 2 September, 2000, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Wales find only misery in Minsk
Belarus scorer Alexander Khatskevich
Alexander Khatskevich celebrates Belarus' first goal
Belarus 2 Wales 1

Wales got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a disastrous start in Minsk, losing 2-1 to Belarus.

It was a lacklustre performance from Mark Hughes' men. They failed to live up to pre-match expectations as Belarus deserved their victory.

They fell 2-0 behind inside an hour and Gary Speed's downward header in the 91st minute was too little, too late for Wales.

The misery was compounded for Wales on 65 minutes when Craig Bellamy was sent off for an apparent outstretched arm, when it had looked as though Bellamy himself was elbowed.

Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy was distraught at his dismissal
Mark Hughes will struggle to take any positives from the performance after Wales were outplayed in most departments.

Belarus always looked the more lively of the two teams and seemed to play the game at a different pace, especially when counter-attacking.

Wales failed to create any real opportunities for themselves as Ryan Giggs was denied enough possession to make a real impact on the match.

Dinamo duo

Wales were undone largely by Belarus' Dinamo Kiev duo of Khatskevich and Belkhevic.

Khatskevich gave Belarus the lead on 40 minutes, but Belkhevich's 55th-minute strike put the game beyond Wales.

He caught the central defenders flat-footed as he squeezed between Coleman and Melville to drill his shot past Jones.

Leading up to the second goal, Wales had enjoyed their best period of the match.

Ryan Giggs volleyed over the bar with his right foot as Wales appeared to be making inroads into the Belarussian defence.

Andy Melville had a header brilliantly saved by keeper Tumilovich, but Belarus always appeared to be soaking up Welsh pressure before hitting them on the break.

They could have scored third and fourth goals - Vasilyuk blasted over the bar from close range and Gareth Roberts appeared to handle the ball as he cleared a further shot off the line.

Paul Jones
Paul Jones' error led to Belarus' first goal
Gifted goal

Wales fell behind five minutes before half-time.

Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones made a dreadful mistake, failing to hold on to a regulation cross from the left wing.

His fumble gave Alexander Khatskevich the simplest of tap-in goals just five minutes from half-time.

Wales had appeared to weather the first-half storm , but Jones' mistake only served to highlight some earlier defensive frailties.

Andy Melville was forced to clear off the line on 14 minutes after Belkhevich had seemed odds-on to score.

AC Roma's right wing, Gurenko, was a constant threat and he consistently found space down the right to hit crosses across the face of the goal.

Wales' best attacks of the first half inevitably involved Ryan Giggs.

His pace posed a constant threat to the Belarussian defence but he was closely watched and never saw enough of the ball.

There were some nice interchanges between Robbie Savage, Giggs and Coventry's new signing Craig Bellamy - but Wales simply couldn't produce the telling final ball into the area.

In the end, Wales paid the price for some woefully indecisive defending and a lack of creativity going forward.


Belarus: Tumilovich, Asanhsenoko, Yakhimovich, Lukhvich, Shtanyuk, Yaskovich, Gurenko, Belkevich, Orlovski, Vasilyuk, M. Romaschenko
Replacements: Ostrovski, Milevsky, Lavrik

Wales: P Jones, R Page, G Roberts, C Coleman, A Melville, G Speed, R Savage, R Giggs, J Robinson, C Bellamy, I Roberts
Replacements: Johnson, C Robinson, Barnard

Referee: A Trentalange (Italy)

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See also:

24 Aug 00 |  Wales
Wales can make it - Jones
30 Aug 00 |  Wales
Giggs still hungry for glory
31 Aug 00 |  Wales
Hartson ruled out for Wales
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